Friday, 30 March 2007

Dan Shaughnessy Thinks You Live In Your Parents' Basement

I was going to let my comments slide on Dan Shaughnessy's column about Curt Schilling's 38 Pitches blog, and bloggers in general, but I decided to add my opinion since there is still a buzz about what the Boston Globe sports columnist wrote.

For those of you who aren't aware, Schilling debuted 38 Pitches earlier this month as a forum where he details life as a big leaguer, analyzes each of his outings and answers many of the questions posed by his readers. And, if you don't already know, Shaughnessy and Schilling are not the best of friends. Anyone who reads Shaughnessy's columns knows that much of what he writes is best ignored. He is a naysayer just to be a naysayer. His sole purpose is to write columns that draw reactions from readers, whether the content is accurate or not.

Shaughnessy's column about 38 Pitches mocked Schilling's entries, and reader responses. Simply put, Shaughnessy believes that Schilling is a blowhard (which is sometimes the case) and that bloggers are starstruck, jobless geeks who live in their parents' basements and attend Star Trek conventions when they are not entrenched for hours at a time in front of their computer and keyboard.

I bring a different perspective to blogging than the typical fan. I started my career as a sports writer for a daily newspaper in Ohio, and I have been in the journalism and PR field for my entire 16-year professional career. Today, I am senior editor of OverTime (a national business and lifestyle magazine for and about professional athletes), and I also write profiles, sports features and travel and lifestyle features for magazines as well as implement PR campaigns for clients. Though I am not a beat writer, I do periodically write about baseball for magazines, and I thoroughly pour over multiple online sites, print publications and broadcast outlets that focus on baseball on a daily basis.

Why do I say this? One main reason. Vince and I launched Sox and Pinstripes to provide a forum for fans to read about the Sox and Yankees and voice their comments about what we write, what Sox and Yankees beat writers author, and what is happening on the field and off the field related to the Sox and Yankees. Blogs are rapidly emerging as reputable journalistic sources, and valuable communication tools. Most beat writers themselves have blogs as a way to personally interact with readers. Schilling's blog is no different. In fact, his blog offers a glimpse into the life of a big leaguer with depth that no other blog provides. There are lots of insightful baseball blogs on the Internet. We are all here because we are passionate about our respective teams, the Sox-Yankees rivalry and the game of baseball.

While I do agree with Shaughnessy's point that some readers of 38 Pitches are a bit too starstruck - after all, Schilling is a man who puts his pants on one leg at a time; he's not God - Schilling's blog is an interesting resource, especially when he talks about his pitching performances. Though Shaughnessy would likely never admit this, it pains him that his readers have no respect for his writing, and they would rather read Schilling's blog entries than his columns. Perhaps Shaughnessy should start his own blog, and you can express your opinion about his writing.

In case you haven't read the column about 38 Pitches, here it is: http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2007/03/26/famous

Jeff Louderback is an award-winning freelance writer and author whose work appears in regional and national magazines. He specializes in personality profiles, sports features, travel and lifestyle features and business features. He is also the creator and editor of Sox and Pinstripes (http://www.soxandpinstripes.com), a blog where readers discuss, debate and learn about all things Red Sox, Yankees and baseball. Though he was born and raised in Ohio, Jeff is a lifelong Red Sox fan. You can learn more about his background at www.jefflouderback.com, www.writeperceptions.net and www.mediabistro.com/jlouderback.

Gene Upshaw, Head of NFL's Players' Union, Is Part Of The Problem

Gene Upshaw, the NFL Players’ Association’s executive director, is on record as saying “We will not let (the) World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) determine how we operate our program. We discipline only for a positive test.” This statement reveals that Upshaw either has no grip on the issue of human growth hormone and/or designer steroid use or he tacitly endorses the use of these PEDs.

First of all, WADA is the world wide authority when it comes to developing and administering anti-doping policy and programs, and every legitimate sports organization that is interested in protecting their athletes should follow WADA’s lead when it comes to anti-doping measures. WADA has invested millions of dollars and has enlisted the brainpower of some of the most brilliant scientists in the world in an effort to develop effective anti-doping strategies.

Rather than play the tough guy, Upshaw should have the common sense to listen to WADA; in the long run a WADA-endorsed anti-doping policy will serve to protect the NFL players that he represents.

First lets look at Upshaw’s horrendously misinformed position when it comes to “positive tests.” Currently the NFL doesn’t have the ability to test for growth hormone, as their anti-doping policy employs urine testing. Urine tests cannot detect hgh use. WADA has developed a blood test that can detect HGH use, but Upshaw is on record as saying that he won’t let his players submit to this kind of testing.

Upshaw’s statement about WADA was made in response to WADA’s position that NFL players should be suspended if evidence links them to the companies involved in the Albany, NY to Orlando, FL internet-based PED ring. Dick Pound, WADA’s chairman, said that if the evidence is reliable in the absence of a positive test, the NFL should “absolutely” suspend the players who purchased PEDs from this ring.

At this point, Upshaw trots out the obligatory union honcho bromide and says his players have a union and have a collective bargaining agreement, and that this is all that matters. By the way, if Upshaw continues to hold this position as this case moves forward, you can be sure that Congress will get involved. But anyway.

Since the NFL cannot test for human growth hormone – Upshaw’s union won’t allow the league to test for HGH – there is no way that a player can fail a test and “get caught.” So the only way to catch NFL players that are using HGH is to bust their dealers. In the absence of a drug test, the NFL has no choice but to use the “got caught red handed test.”

Upshaw is also on record as saying he “has his doubts about WADA and their history. I am not willing to accept them as the authority on this (drug testing).” This statement is startling and troubling given that Upshaw is the man entrusted with protecting the interests of hundreds of current professional football players and thousands of future players. Upshaw is totally ignorant of the role that WADA plays in trying to keep the playing field level for all athletes, while at the same time protecting them.

What is lost in this whole debate is that 20-something year old kids are buying substances from an anonymous Internet source that alter the workings of their endocrine system. The endocrine system has an effect on just about every organ, cell and function of the body and people – some NFL players - are buying and ingesting substances that mess with it, without ever seeing a doctor. I would think a that well-informed union head, team owner and/or league commissioner would want to make damn sure that no player that they were responsible for would wind up using these substances without supervision.

A well-informed union executive director could make a better case that the players he’s responsible for are entitled to a medically supervised hormone replacement therapy program, rather than the lame position currently held by Upshaw. And to lash out at WADA is ignorance at a supreme level.

The position that athletes who risk their lives should be able to take advantage of a legitimate medically supervised therapy, therapy that the rest of us can benefit from, is defensible. The position that the league, because of a collective bargaining agreement is, or should be, powerless to prevent their players from purchasing and self-administering growth factors and other substances without medical supervision, is not defensible. Gene Upshaw’s current position is not defensible.

Upshaw doesn’t express concern over the fact that his players may be using powerful drugs that affect the function of the pituitary gland or that these guys are buying substances over the internet without any way of knowing if the substances are the genuine articles. The head of the NFL players’ union is more concerned with publicly picking a fight with, and questioning the motives of, the recognized leader of the anti-doping movement than he is interested in finding a way to protect his players.

WADA’s policies and procedures can help to protect NFL players but Upshaw treats WADA as if they are corrupt cops who are looking to violate the civil rights of the players.

From Upshaw’s many public statements on the matter, it is clear that this issue is beyond his understanding. The NFL players need to be protected – as much as is reasonable - from the dangers inherent in the game of football both on and off the field. Upshaw’s position on this issue is an impediment to keeping these elite athletes as healthy and as safe as possible.

Sal Marinello is a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer, a U.S.A. Weightlifting Certified Coach, a full-time, private Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach, an assistant football coach and a Head Strength Coach for a suburban New Jersey High School. He writes a lot and has no free time.

Are the Cavs Ready for the Playoffs?

Last night the Cavs lost to the Knicks in a very winnable game 93 to 97. Not that the Cavs can win every game, but this one, against a team that was ten games under 0.500, was frustrating. The Cavs move to three games back of the division leading Detroit Pistons. LeBron and company had this one in their grasp, but they never took control of the game. When it came time to get one last stop, as the Cavs trailed by one point with about thirty seconds left in the fourth quarter, Stephon Marbury shot a three-point prayer over Sasha Pavlovic that bounced around the rim for what seemed like 10 seconds before dropping in.

It was a lucky shot that needed a lot of rolls and bounces to go in, but that lucky shot at the end wasn't where the game was lost. And sure, this game was the second night of consecutive road games that had the Cavs traveling from Indianapolis to New York. The problem is the way in which the Cavs lost the game and what it could mean for the Cavs' readiness for the playoffs.

The Cavs got out-hustled all night long. They were out-rebounded 48 to 35. The Knicks have huge injury problems that only got worse during the game. Jamal Crawford, David Lee and Quentin Richardson were out before game time, and Steve Francis went down to a sprained ankle during the first quarter. With all those injuries, the Cavs still didn't have the defensive wherewithall to stop the few guys left to hurt them.

Marbury got his 16 points with the last three-pointer being especially dagger-like. They gave up 12 points to a diminutive Nate Robinson. Worst of all, they gave up 25 points to a bloated Eddy Curry. I know Eddy Curry has some skills and all, but when you have a trio of big men like Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao, one might expect your team to be able to stop the likes of Eddy Curry. He isn't exactly Shaq in his prime.

To add insult to injury, LeBron James took a beating that would make Chuck Finley cry. He was undercut on a drive to the basket. He was fouled hard on another near breakaway and finally was fouled in the lane that caused a scary moment where he basically landed on his back. The Knicks are thugs and they play an old-school style of basketball as directed by Isiah Thomas. They aren't afraid to make the most of their fouls, especially when it could mean the difference in the game. The Cavs seemed afraid to fight back.

In the playoffs, a team needs to be ready for every game. They need to have intensity on both sides of the ball. They need to recognize the weaknesses of the other team to take advantage. Finally, they need to force the action, as opposed to reacting (poorly) when the other team imposes their will physically. The Cavs were outrebounded, let a Eddy Curry force the action and allowed some role players to physically dominate their superstar by allowing all the hard fouls to LeBron James.

That, my friends, is why this game was a big deal. The loss is a loss. They happen. But to lose the way they did, without putting up a fight, and allowing themselves to be taken out of the game so physically is a poor harbinger of things to come in the playoffs.

Craig Lyndall rants, raves and writes other stuff at FilteringCraig.com and at The Cleveland Sports Curse

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

The Definitive Cleveland Browns Draft Guide

The draft can be one of the weirdest, most harrowing times of the year for a football fan. This season for the Cleveland Browns has been no different, thus far. During the regular season, it is really easy to get lost in the grinding 17 week season (including bye week) as the Browns jumped up and down with each win and loss. In the case of the Browns they ended up in some subterranean layer of the earth. As the final whistle blew, after watching the team sputter its way to 12 losses, everything seemed obvious.

It was obvious, first and foremost, that the Browns need help all over the field. The two most glaring spots are the offensive line and the defensive backfield. So, easily enough, we have identified the two greatest positions of need for this Browns team.

The offensive line seemed old and broken down enough that both Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson became injury victims. While some people were upset with the play of Reuben Droughns, most accepted that the offensive line had been at least partially responsible for his declining statistics.

The Browns also had big problems at cornerback. Daylon McCutcheon was hurt and never returned. Baxter got hurt. Bodden was in and out with injuries. The cast of thousands that tried to replace them got burned up and down the field with regularity.

It is the same old story. These are the things that we talked about all season long. So, we need to address those two positions in the off-season. Everybody good with that? Good.

So, the Browns will definitely address those two positions, offensive line and cornerback in the draft?

Yes. Well, no. Well, maybe with picks other than the top pick. In fact now that we have forgotten all we had decided while watching the team last season, we should just start from the standpoint of drafting the most talented player, regardless of their position.

Okay, I can buy that in some scenarios like maybe if there is an unbelievable player who stands head and shoulders above the rest.

And by the way, there is this one kid from Notre Dame named Brady Quinn who we think might end up being a franchise quarterback.

Yeah, that sounds like a great (screeeeeech!) wait, what?

Brady Quinn?

What in the hell did we just talk ourselves into? Didn't everything seem clear only a few short months ago?

Back to reality.

Brady Quinn can not become a member of the Cleveland Browns. Let me explore this as a symptom of how we lose focus the further we get into combines and drafts. You can't possibly make an argument for Brady Quinn with the number three pick in the draft, but that hasn't stopped people from trying. The arguments in favor of Brady Quinn are astonishing. People have mentioned his coaching in college as if that should be some big incentive to draft a guy at number three in the NFL draft. Previous coaching is a nice-to-have attribute on top of some other extreme physical gifts, but this sounds like the kind of logic that should be used in trying to find a sleeper on the second day of the draft. To make these arguments at the top of day one is infuriating.

The key to finding the next Joe Montana or Tom Brady should be pretty apparent. Montana was drafted in the third round of the 1979 draft. Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round in 2000. Let this be the lesson. You aren't going to find these guys at the top of day 1. And Browns fans need to remember one simple lesson from their history. Tim Couch was selected over Donovan McNabb. I rest my case.

Back to the Browns. The bottom line is this. They stink. They need to improve. They can afford to miss out by not taking a guy and then he beats the odds to become a success. They can't take the risk that one of these guys turns out to be a bust after he is holding up the orange and brown jersey on draft day. So, what does this mean to all the potential players? This, my friends is the definitive guide. No more hemming and hawing. Short of a car crash changing the health status of the players, this is the definitive strategy on each player mentioned in the running in the top five.

  • JaMarcus Russell - If he magically falls to the Browns at number three, they have to take him. He is a physical anomaly at the position and has easily distanced himself from all the other QBs in the draft. If you really want a QB and Russell isn't available at number three, you better start doing your homework on picking up the next Tom Brady in the later rounds on day two.
  • Adrian Peterson - Adrian Peterson could be the next LaDainian Tomlinson. There is a chance that he could be the next Courtney Brown. Durability questions? Take him off the list. Enough of being wishy washy and thinking too hard about it. There are questions. Remove him from the list. You can pick up some pretty talented backs later on in the draft. Just ask Terrell Davis.
  • Joe Thomas - If Thomas is there, you have to take him. Not only is he the best offensive lineman in the draft, he happens to play the largest position of need on the entire history of any football team ever this side of QB. He is a surefire bet. He isn't a guarantee, but nobody can argue with the bet. That being said, I would be surprised if he isn't going to Detroit.
  • Calvin Johnson - This is another guy that is surefire bet. If you end up with Johnson on your roster, that is great. Because it isn't a position of need, this is where the Browns need to start thinking of trading the pick to get full value out of their draft position. If they can't trade it, they take Johnson and start scheming ways to make Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Johnson the most dangerous offensive trio in the league.

That's it. These are the answers. Remove Quinn and Peterson from the equation because there are questions. You can't afford questions in the top five picks of the NFL draft. Even if you end up winning with a pick like Peterson, consider it like this. You are at a blackjack table and you just split tens and won both hands. Just because you won doesn't mean it was a good idea.

Keep these things in mind and you will rest easier going into the draft. I am sleeping better already since writing all this down.

Craig Lyndall rants, raves and writes other stuff at FilteringCraig.com and at The Cleveland Sports Curse

Presented By

The Fantastic Final Four

If last year's NCAA Tournament was the Year of the Upset, with George Mason making its magic carpet ride to the Final Four, this year is the Year of the Opposite. All four of the semifinalists of this year's tourney are 1 and 2 seeds, proving how remarkable the 11th seeded George Mason's run was. But the lack of a Cinderella team doesn't make this Final Four any less exciting. All of the teams have a shot at cutting down the net on Monday Night. Only one will. Here are my picks for this year's Final Four and Championship Game.

No. 2 Georgetown vs. No. 1 Ohio State (Saturday, March 31, 6:07 p.m.)

Both of these teams have extremely talented centers, OSU's Greg Oden and Georgetown's Roy Hibbert. I give Hibbert, who has had a double-double in all of his five tournament games, the edge in this matchup. Ohio State had a relatively easy road to the Final Four, playing Central Connecticut, Xavier, Tennessee, and an overrated Memphis team. However, if it wasn't for Ron Lewis' desperate three with 2 seconds left against Xavier, which was made with more luck than skill, the Ohio State players would be (gasp!) in class right now.

Georgetown had a tough stretch of games where they had to play Boston College, Vanderbilt and North Carolina. They did almost lose to 6 seeded Vanderbilt, but the Commodores upset Number 1 Florida earlier this season. Georgetown crushed North Carolina in overtime, scoring 14 straight points.

My Pick: Georgetown 81, Ohio State 76

No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 1 Florida (Saturday, March 31, 8:47 p.m.)

A rematch of last year's championship game. Aaron Afflalo is the main scorer for UCLA, and (say this name five times fast) Luc Richard Mbah a Moute grabs most of their rebounds.

But the Florida starters play so well together that they don't depend on one or two players. Taurean Green, Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, and Lee Humphrey have averaged 11.6, 10.8, 12.6, 10.6 and 9.2 points per game in the tournament, respectively. Noah has pulled down 8.8 rebounds a game, and Horford is close behind with 7.8. And Humphrey, the only starter without a double digit scoring average, could change that this game. He scored 23 points, 21 of them off threes, in the Elite Eight against Kansas. UCLA is good, but they won't be able to take this balanced team.

My Pick: Florida 79, UCLA 70

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Monday, April 2, 9:21 p.m.)

(Florida vs. Georgetown)

Roy Hibbert will keep the Hoyas in the game, but the Gator's quintuple-threat offense and the smothering defense of Joakim Noah will make them repeat champions, the first since the '91 and '92 Duke teams, and only the second since John Wooden was still on the sidelines for UCLA.

My Pick: Florida 89, Georgetown 80

Josh Mandell is a fan of many sports who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. His favorite pro sports team is the Boston Red Sox. The athlete he admires most is Roger Federer.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

MotoGP: Rossi Dominates in Spain

The Yamaha team showed that the bike and riders are still the quickest around on Sunday in Spain. Valentino Rossi dominated the race from start to finish, with team mate Colin Edwards coming in third.

Dani Pedrosa managed to be "the best of the rest," finishing his Honda RC212V second.

It all looked too easy for Rossi though -- he managed the gap to Pedrosa well, kept his tyres in better condition than anyone else, and even had enough time in his pocket to back off on the last three laps.

Pedrosa, on the other hand, struggled to keep up with the Italian seven-time title winner. He looked ragged and close to crashing at points. His tyres showed a lot more wear after the race than either of the Yamahas.

The race started with Pedrosa on pole, and Rossi in the second spot. Rossi had the launch off the line, and managed to get into the first corner in the lead position.

Pedrosa managed to stay with Rossi for the first ten laps, even looking to challenge for the lead at times. However it was Rossi that looked after his tyres, and after the first half of the race started to struggle in maintaining the gap to Rossi. So much in fact that Edwards started to make inroads into Pedrosa.

The status quo was held, and the top three was Rossi, Pedrosa and Edwards.

If the front of the pack sounded boring, it certainly was not further down the pack. The current world champion Nicky Hayden made moves up the grid after a poor qualifying, and was running in fourth place. The climb used his tyres up early however, and towards the end of the race started to slip back. It seems he struggled to come to terms with the new 800cc bikes.

The two Ducati factory bikes really struggled at the twisty circuit. They may have the power, but they need to work on the handling. Both Casey Stoner and Loris Capirosi struggled. The two riders did seem to preserve their tyres well though, and Stoner ended the race fifth.

The rider of the race in my eyes though was Toni Elias. After starting in the fourth row on the grid he made some great moves on Stoner, Checa, Melandri and finally Hayden to finish as the next best Honda behind the leading three.

There were also some other interesting points to take away from this race. The Suzukis looked strong, and if John Hopkins had not come off in the quick Pons corner after passing Hayden, he would have finished in fourth, as he certainly had the better speed in the race.

Results

  1. Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha)
  2. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
  3. Colin Edwards (Fiat Yamaha)
  4. Toni Elias (Honda Gresini)
  5. Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro)
  6. Carlos Checa (Honda LCR)
  7. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda)
  8. Marco Melandri (Honda Gresini)
  9. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki)
  10. Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda)
  11. Alex Barros (Pramac d'Antin Ducati)
  12. Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro)
  13. Randy De Puniet (Kawasaki)
  14. Makoto Tamada (Tech 3 Yamaha)
  15. Sylvain Guintoli (Tech 3 Yamaha)
  16. Kenny Roberts Jr (Team Roberts Honda)
  17. Kousuke Akiyoshi (Rizla Suzuki)
  18. Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki)
  19. John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki)

Ashleigh currently writes for Naked Cleaner and F1 Blog. His interest lie in Technology (of all forms) and engineering. Day to day he does network security for living (yes I AM that nerdy).

Monday, 26 March 2007

Road To the Roses 2007: Featured Horse - Circular Quay

Circular Quay is another horse trained by Todd Pletcher, one of the best trainers in the business. The horse is owned by Michael and Doreen Tabor. Tabor was the principal owner of the Arthur Prince chain of betting shops in the UK until selling the business in 1996 for $50 million.

Circular Quay's sire is the 1995 Derby and Belmont winner Thunder Gulch and his Dam is Circle of Life. Both parents can trace their heritage back to 1964's Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer.

Image courtesy of Adam CoglianeseCircular Quay was the 5-2 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and, despite the deep field including Scat Daddy and King of the Roxy, lost to the 15-1 underdog Street Sense. At the Risen Star Stakes (GIII) on February 10, 2007, on the home turn, the horse in front of him, Slew's Tizzy, clipped heels with another horse and Slew's Tizzy lost his jockey. This forced Circular Quay to jump out of the way and took him down to a fifth place finish.

In the Louisiana Derby on March 10, 2007, Circular Quay finally ran his race. Under the control of Jockey John R. Velazquez, he was able to avoid traffic issues and circled the field five wide coming off the turn to rally and win the GII Derby at the Fair Grounds. This snapped his three-race losing streak after winning his first three starts.

What makes Circular Quay a contender? First off, for such a small colt, he has a big heart, just like Thunder Gulch. He is trained by one of the best in the business. And he has the genes. He is a deep closer, but I will need to see what he does in his next race: the Wood Memorial on April 7th before crowning him to the derby.

By the way, Circular Quay's namesake is a locality in Sydney, Australia. It was the site of the first European settlement in Australia and is now a major transport hub for the city's central business district, within several hundred metres of the Sydney Opera House.

T. Michael Testi is a photographer, writer, software developer and ardent fantasy football fan and of horse race handicapping. He also blogs at PhotographyTodayNet and at All This and Everything Else

Women's Hoops Features This Year's Upsets -- Or More Accurately, "Migraines"

Lead: The first person to throw rocks on a team.

Many questions still surround Tony LaRussa's surprising DUI early Thursday morning. Notably: was he wearing his sunglasses?

Second: The second person to throw rocks on a team.

David Carr, having bruised every vital organ at least once in his tenure as the Houston Texans' quarterback, has been replaced by a younger, more nubile quarterback, and threw an oil tycoon's fortune at him.

Matt Schaub, Michael Vick's backup for three years, was traded to the Texans for a coupon for a free order of Domino's cheesy bread. Then Schaub signed a 6-year, $48 million deal. Mind you, Schaub is not a proven starter. What could possibly go wrong?

Joey PorterBiter: A rock that just barely touches the outside of the house.

New twist on an old and busted joke: I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than gambling with Joey Porter.

The ex-Steelers lineman got into a fistfight with Cincinnati Bengals lineman Levi Jones at a blackjack table in Las Vegas.

Also, for those of you in the next-bad-publicity-for-the-Bengals pool who had "punched a dude in Vegas," congratulations, you psychic bastard. Close but no cigar for those who had "punched a hooker in Vegas."

Roll: The movement of the thrown rock after it collides with another.

Hey guys, I think we found Cinderella. This year, it's a chick.

Marist College -- total enrollment, a skosh over 5,000 -- has made headlines (or at least subheads) after they reached the regional semifinals of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. As a 13 seed, they narrowly defeated two ranked teams, Ohio State and Middle Tennessee State. Now in the Sweet 16, their next challenge is to dethrone the entire Volunteer State: 1-seeded Tennessee and legendary coach Pat Summitt.

(Quick facts about Marist: They are located in Poughkeepsie, New York, and notable alumni include Rik Smits and Bill O'Reilly. Wow, Rik Smits!)

The Red Foxes have made it this far, so why can't they advance further into the tournament? If you answered "Tennessee," give yourself a gold star.

Double: A takeout shot that removes two stones from play.

Tanith Belbin and her skating partner -- whatever his name may be (nobody quite knows) -- won third place at the World Figure Skating Championships. No, I'm not much of a skating fan. And honesty, it's just an excuse to link to a picture of Tanith Belbin.

Hammer: The final rock of the end.

Two women's basketball items in the same week? What has this world come to? It's a world where I'm allowed to mention Bowling Green athletics in a national spotlight.

BGSU's women's basketball team, ranked between 16th and 20th most of the year, upset SEC champion Vanderbilt in the second round to become the first Mid-American team to reach the women's Sweet 16. So for those keeping score, we have uncharted waters for both the MAC and the MAAC.

It says a lot about this team that I've seen more BG women's games in person than BG men's games. (Or maybe that says too much about me.) But this senior-heavy team, coming off three straight conference championships, is playing some of the most inspired basketball I've witnessed in quite some time.

If BG can find a way to upset Arizona State today, their next likely opponent in the Elite Eight will be Duke. Do they have a chance? Back in December the Falcons narrowly lost 55-46 on a neutral court after leading much of the game. (It was Duke's lowest point total of the season.)

Matt SussmanBeing editor of BC Sports isn't Matt Sussman's main job -- nor is blogging at The Futon Report or writing a weekly column for the Toledo Free Press -- and it shows. Contact him at .